(Tehran Bureau) | March 30, 2010
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
Ahmadinejad and His Men: Embodiments of Fraud and Corruption.
There is no doubt in the minds of many Iranians, including the author, that Tehran’s hardliners committed fraud on a vast scale to steal the presidential election of June 12, 2009, and deny victory to Mir Hossein Mousavi. The rigging of the election, the hardliners’ violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, the jailing of thousands of people, the systematic murder, rape, and sodomy of dozens or more, the Stalinist show trials–these acts have plunged Iran into a crisis with no end in sight. Superficially, the country is calm, but even the most minor event may trigger a huge national explosion at any moment.
Rigging the June election was by no means the first time that the hardliners resorted to fraud and cheating to maintain their hold on power. Such acts have been going on ever since the 1979 Revolution (echoing, of course, the behavior of the preceding monarchy), and they have become ever more widespread since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was appointed Supreme Leader in 1989. Because he had neither Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s charisma and popular base of support, nor the religious credentials expected of the man who would replace him, Ayatollah Khamenei has always had to rely on the security, intelligence, and military forces, as well as the minority of Iranian clerics in the conservative and reactionary camps, in order to consolidate his control of the nation. The result has been the never ending growth of economic corruption and the looting of national resources by a small group, widespread political and social repression, and a culture of institutionalized criminality that has provided fertile grounds for electoral fraud. Indeed, the commission of political crimes is an essential tool used by the hardliners to maintain power.
At the same time, with the partial exception of the first three years of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, Ayatollah Khamenei has never allowed a free press to flourish in Iran. There is no independent news media that can act as a watchdog of the state and reveal the depth of corruption and political crimes that the hardliners have been committing.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss all the crimes for which the hardliners have been responsible over the past three decades. There are enough to fill several books. I have described some of them, such as the infamous Chain Murders, and the execution of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s, in previous articles. The intention here is to provide an overview of the various economic and political crimes, as well as intellectual frauds, that have been committed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the administrations that he has run at every level, and the people close to him.